Trout Spey Rods

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Sandy River, Oregon
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Trout Spey Rods And A Trout Bum
By: J. Morgan Jones

I have a large collection of lightweight trout rods. Most are 3-weights and 4-weights in the more popular lengths. I also have a few big rods, but don't use them very much. The difficulty, I think, is that I have always been a trout bum. Each winter when my workmates are hyped about steelhead fishing the urge comes to join them, but I never seem to get around to it. Perhaps as I get older I can more easily blame my dislike of the extreme cold as the reason for not getting out there more in the winter months.

In late Summer, without fail, I resolve to do more Summer Steelheading. But, it seems that every time I get to the river one of those little trout rods finds its way into my hand. Every now and then my resolve is stronger than usual and I force myself to get out a steelhead rod, tie on one of those weird colored flies and do the step, mend, and cast. On ever rarer occasions, I actually hook one of them. The difficulty is that while those big fish are really, well...BIG, and they pull hard, and can put on quite a show, a trout will come to the surface somewhere in my cone of vision and I somehow become mesmerized, and then the next thing I know, I have one of those trout rods in my hand. I can’t help it, it just happens. It could be an addiction. What makes it worse, is that every one that I work with is a DIED-IN-THE-WOOL-STEELHEADER. Beside that, I don’t think that I have seen any of my coworkers with anything but a spey rods in their hands. I put forth a valiant effort most days, but I am not able to get them to see the error of their ways. So, a few years ago I ended up with a spey rod. I needed one  so I could get out there and, you know, do some of that steelheading. with the long rod. Yeah, right. Every now and then, I drag it out of the case and attempt to cast the damned thing. Never really got it. I could cast it, but I just never really GOT IT. Last year (or was it the year before?) I went out on the river with one of the guys that I know who is without a doubt a really, really, real S-T-E-E-L-H-E-A-D-E-R, Mark Bachmann himself. He was casting a G. Loomis Metolius 5/6 13’4” spey rod, and as usual, he was casting it quite well. I even picked it up and threw it a few times myself, though at the time I was not impressed, and promptly went back to my single hand rod and my trout fishing. Last winter came, and one of those weird chain of events happened and for some unexplained reason I found my self thinking about really learning to cast one of these spey rods. About the same time I found Marks little 5/6 spey rod and line laying around the shop. I asked him if I could use it for a few days or so. His response was a “use anything I have as long as you want” which is actually quite typical of him, but looking back, it could have been a sinister plot. I never noticed before but the damned rod is actually labeled as a “Trout” spey rod. We will get back to this later......Suffice it to say that I was able to pick up one of these little jewels for myself, and I was off and running. Remember, I work with spey rod people. People who have a spey rod in their hands as often as possible, a couple of steelhead spey guides, two certified casters and one MASTER certified spey instructor. I really don’t have a good reason to not learn this stuff well, and I DO have the means... Josh Linn takes me out back and shows me how to do the “single spey” cast as well as possible on the grass, but you really need water to cast the long rods properly. So, off to the river to work on the single spey cast. After as bit, I pleasantly discovered that I could cast the long rod passably well without having to think about every move I made...maybe not yet as comfortable as my single hand rods, but fairly easily. It’s not that I am unusually gifted with learning, but it’s more about having all the resources you could ever want around every day, and getting a fair understanding of how the spey rod works.   Some where along the line, I decided that I am going to devote this up-coming season to trout fishing with a spey rod. Our shop offers quite a few classes on this very subject so I  enrolled in our basic spey casting class with Leroy Teeple and George Cook. This helped me understand the rods full potential. After that, me and a couple of my close fishing buddies got together for practices. Casting got easier and easier. After about 10 days of serious practice, I was becoming very comfortable with the "long rod".

While this could easily be a whole different article on why you should take a class from professional casting instructors, suffice it to say that instruction is highly recommended. The greatest reason that I am able to cast a spey rod is the level of instruction I received in the beginning.

Lightweight 10’ rods are known as effective nymphing tools, ask most any long time trout fisher. But with a rod of over 13’ rod you will quickly realize that if you reach upriver as far as you are easily able, and set your nymph in the water (I did not say CAST your nymph) and dead drift it down river using the high stick method of nymphing, and let it drift as far as you are able without adding any line, you are covering 30’ of water in a completely dead drift, with no indicator and no line on the water. It was at this juncture that the light really began to dawn on me.  When you lengthen out your rod by 30% and add the full use of your other hand, the distance at which you can control your fly becomes proportionally bigger.  With a spey rod you can effectively control the drift of your weighted stonefly nymph a distances beyond 60' and get even longer drag free drifts.  With a weighted Wooly Buggers and a line equipped with a fast sinking tip you can reach out even further. And performing the spey cast you don't need much room for a back-cast.

A long flexible spey rod really plays the fish quite well as its length protects the tippet better than any rod I have ever used for trout. And casting any distance throughout the course of a day will cause you to discover that the spey rod is physically less draining to cast than the one handed rod when fishing similar distances.

I do not see myself ever giving up my one handed rods for dry fly fishing. Spey rods work best for fishing a sunk fly. But, now I have a new tool in the rod bag; a new tool that causes me to look at the old waters in a different light. Perhaps as I get older my vision is actually getting better.

Spey rods and trout bums, who would have thought?
G. Loomis Metolius Trout Spey 13’ 4” 5/6 rod. Nautilus #8 reel. Scientific Anglers 5/6 XLT (80’ head) spey line. And one used fly fisher armed with a new toy......it’s going be a good season!


Test Report: G. Loomis Trout Spey
By: Mark Bachmann
Spey rods are very popular for salmon and steelhead fishing.  Several makers have also introduced lightweight models for trout. Fishing with "very long rods" for trout is not new.  There is evidence which suggests that rods of 10' to 14' were the most common lengths in the 1400's though 1700's.  It is only since the late 1800's that rods of 8' to 10' have become most popular with trout anglers.  There are probably several reason's; a more mobile population wanting rods which would travel easy, the development of lightweight hooks which allowed dry fly fishing, and a change of casting style brought on by a science which concluded that the development of high line speed is always paramount to the best presentation.  However, all of these factors are to some degree irrelevant when it comes to high stick nymph fishing for trout in a large, fast moving rivers.  A long rod and a short line gives improved control over the dead drifted, bottom hugging nymph (or nymphs).  Working upon the theory that a longer rod would improve my nymph fishing, I designed and built a 12' #5 in about 1984.  It was a great advantage and was used until it wore out.  We sold several of these rods to perceptive anglers.  Unfortunately the company who made the blanks for us had problems.  By 1986 these rods became unavailable.  That left a bunch of unhappy people, including myself.  We approached several other blank makers but never came up with the right deal.      
Mark Bachmann playing hooky from work.

The idea was set on the back burner and finally forgotten until Mike Perusse, our local G. Loomis rep introduced me to to the StreamDance Spey.  It is an extremely lightweight 13'4" #5/6 weight, 3-piece rod.  There is little doubt that this rod is going to single-handedly start a revolution in high stick nymph fishing.  Longer is better for getting a perfectly dead drift with weighted nymphs.  This time of year the highest percentage of anglers who are fishing for trout in moving water are doing it with dead drifted nymphs.  It's academic.  The longer the drift the more time the fly is in the strike zone.  The longer the rod, the longer the reach.

The longer the reach the longer the "precisely controlled" drift.  Trout become keenly aware of drag caused by the line and leader in the water.  The more line that can be held off the water the more drag can be eliminated.  The longer the rod the more line can be held off the water.  This rod was used  

Deschutes River field testing.

on the Deschutes last week by myself and clients.  The fishing was good and the long rod was an advantage.  It is extremely lightweight for its length.  Many fat Redsides were landed with it.  The FR16056-3M is the nymph rod that I would have designed and built, if I had known how.  MB

FR16056-3M

Length: 13' 4"    Line: #5/6     Pieces: 3   

Handle Style 150
The bushes are just behind you. The fish are 60 feet out. What do you do? Roll out a single or double spey cast and you cover the spot, then mend, extending your drift to the confluence of the next river system. You'll need to manage long leaders and nymph patterns in deep water spots, and push out large dries like stoneflies and hoppers, yet still enjoy catching 12-inch rainbows without breaking light tippet. Steelhead and salmon anglers have been using the long rod for years, eliminating false casts, keeping the fly in the water where it needs to be, not in the air. And the 13'4" #5/6 StreamDance Spey is so light, an 18-incher will feel like a 10lb summer run steelhead feels on your 8 weight. Isaac Walton would be jealous.
Item Series Line Wt Power Taper Handle Price To Top
11411-01 Metolius Trout Spey 5/6 Spey Med Med 150 $445.00

-->SALE ENDED

Steve Rajeff, Steve Choate and Ed Ward
"The Three Main Styles of Spey Casting Defined (on the water)"
Presentation at The Sandy River Spey Clave May 6, 9:00am - 10:00am
Steve Rajeff, Presentation: Cast 300'

G. Loomis Crew To Provide Dinner at Clave, Saturday Evening, May 5, starting at 6:00pm.
Full series of G. Loomis two-handers will be available for you to try at the G. Loomis booth.
G. LOOMIS FEAR NO FISH !!! 
Grease Line Series
HiTech Traditional  Spey
Dredger Series
Leading Edge Skagit Style
Stinger Series
Scandinavian Fast Action
When it comes to delivering long, accurate casts or dropping a fly on a dime, nobody in the world does it better than the G. Loomis Director of Research & Development, Steve Rajeff.  Rajeff has dominated the world of competitive casting for over three decades.  He has no less than 29 national and 13 world All Round Championships on his casting resume. Steve holds the current National single and two hand fly distance records at 238 feet and 295 feet respectively. Steve and his brother Tim were winning teammates in the recent Outdoor Life Network Flyfishing Masters Championship. Steve gives G. Loomis a powerful  Steve Rajeff with a British Columbia steelhead.
 advantage against the competition with a deep understanding of how fly rods work, 
and Steve Rajeff spend a lot of time fishing together.  The exchange of information that happens on those trips is added into the mix of G. Loomis design knowledge...local on the water knowledge. 
 Steve Choate won the 2002 International Open Spey Casting Championship at Broadlands on the river Test in England with a cast of 50 yards.  This cast was performed on moving water as a "fishing cast".  Steve perfected the "Spiral-Single" spey cast and has been one of the major cornerstones of the Sandy River Spey Clave since its beginnings.  Right now G. Loomis GLX two-handers will compete with anything in the world.  Steve Choate works close with Steve Rajeff as an advise on two-hand rod design and helped produce the Grease Line series of G. Loomis rods.  Steve Choate with a Thompson River hen.
Ed Ward is a steelhead fly fishing legend who helped design the new Roaring River Dredger Series of "Skagit Cast" rods.  This rod configuration and casting style has evolved and steadily gained popularity as means of fishing very large flies for steelhead.  Short, heavy sinking-tip heads are cast perpendicular to the current and the fly is dead-drifted deep.  It is a method which takes precise casting and line handling.  It is deadly when mastered.  Ed is pictured at left with a fish taken on the Sandy River.  He has fished nearly the
entire native range of Oncorhynchus mykiss.   He is universally respected for his highly refined two-hand fly rod fishing skills.  Wow! Rajeff, Choate and Ward exploring the dynamics of two-handers; teamed-up together at the Sandy River Spey Clave!!??  Sounds potent to us !!!
Don't miss it !!!

BEST OF THE WEST DISTANCE CASTING FINALS

For over 12 years fly casters have competed in the Best of the West Distance Fly casting Competition. Qualifying takes place at the International Sportsman’s Expo (ISE) shows held in San Mateo, Denver, Sacramento, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. The winner of each show meets at the Salt Lake City show for the finals. 

The rules are simple. Each caster within the categories of Youth, Women’s and Men’s, get three casts with a factory 5 weight fly rod, this year provided by G. Loomis and TFO and a 120 foot SA Mastery Expert Distance line. The longest cast, of the three, counts. Only San Mateo is outside, but distances there are very impressive. In 2002 Brian O’Keefe threw 117 feet and this year Steve Rajeff threw 118 feet. Wendy Gunn had the most impressive women’s cast to date, with a winning launch of 96 feet in 2006. And that is at sea level, also. 

This year the show winners included Steve Rajeff of Woodland, WA, Rick Hartman of Harlingen, Texas, Brian O’Keefe of Powell Butte, Oregon, Jim Gunderson of Salt Lake, Bill Gammel of Austin, Texas and Clay Roberts of Divide, Colorado. Most of these guys are repeat finals competitors, with Jim Gunderson being the finals champion three times, Rick Hartman twice and then there is World Champion, Steve Rajeff, always a top finisher, but finding the BOTW championship very elusive. 

The finals are set up in a shoot-out format. In other words, all six casters go and take their three casts but only the top four scores move on. Then those four cast, and the top two move on, then those two shoot it out for the championship. Large crowds line the narrow “pond” and there were cameras from local TV stations and ESPN contractors. 

After the first flight, Steve, Jim, Rick and Brian moved on. In the second flight Steve Rajeff ripped an all time record cast of 124 feet 1 inch. That Mastery Expert Distance WF-5-F line was in a perfect six inch loop and just kept going and going and then turned over. The calm and collected Steve Rajeff knew he hit a homer and shot both arms in the air like a heavy weight champ. Last year, Jim Gunderson won with a 120 feet 9 inches, 7 inches better that Steve’s best attempt. After the second flight Steve and Rick moved on. Rick Hartman, an absolutely beautiful caster, can, during practice, approach 130 feet. Do not take these distances lightly. Casting a production trout rod, with an over the counter trout line, beyond  90 feet, is exceptional. All these casters can and will go out of bounds occasionally, or step on the line or ball up the cast from over exhilaration, but when they hit it just right, the results are mind boggling.  

In the championship shoot-out, Steve prevailed with a cast of 115 feet 1 inch.
Rick’s best cast was 114 feet 1 inch.
The final results for the men were:
Steve Rajeff  -        115’1”
Rick Hartman  -    114’1”
Brian O’Keefe  -   112’9”
Jim Gunderson  - 112’ 8”
Bill Gammel  -        105’5”
Clay Roberts  _       101’5” 

The Women’s finals shoot-out was between Cezanne Alexander, also from Harlingen, Texas and Wendy Gunn from Lees Ferry, Arizona. Both casters met last year in the finals, also.
Their results were:
Cezanne Alexander  -   92’5”
Wendy Gunn  -             90’5” 

For more information, there will be a dedicated web site, starting in mid-April at www.bestofthewest.sportsexpos.com .

So, practice this summer and come join the over 300 fly casters who participated in this years event. Buy a Scientific Anglers Expert Distance WF-5-F in the 120 foot configuration and LET IT FLY !!!

Item Description Size Price To Top
546738 Scientific Anglers Expert Distance Line, orange WF5F
120'
$59.95 SALE ENDED

Author: Mark Bachmann with a wild Sandy River Steelhead 03/08/07.

Sandy River, Oregon  

The Sandy River in northwestern Oregon is undoubtedly one of the best maintained urban rivers in the world.  It is our home water.  The Fly Fishing Shop is located in the Sandy River basin 35 miles from the mouth of the river.  Recent management emphasis has been to maintain many parts of the Sandy drainage in a wild condition conducive to rehabilitating its divers populations of native salmonids.  All wild fish within the basin are catch and release.
There is evidence that wild fish populations are increasing.  The future looks good.

Current Water Flow Above Marmot Dam

Water Flow Below Mouth of Bull Run R.

Fishing Report Winter Steelhead Summer Steelhead Chinook Salmon
GUIDED TRIPS River Journal Basin Map Resident Trout
More Fish Pictures Cascade Streamwatch Don't Miss The Sandy River Spey Clave!

Mt. Hood, Oregon

The Sandy River originates high on the slopes of Mt. Hood, a 11,200' volcano located about fifty miles east of Portland, Oregon. The headwaters of the Sandy River are beneath Reid and Sandy Glaciers at 6000 feet elevation. From here the river flows due west past The Fly Fishing Shop in the village of Welches, located in the Hoodland Corridor.  Fifteen miles west of us, the river then turns north to enter the Columbia River at sea level.
The Sandy River is a geological product of some of the most dramatic forces on Earth. Her changeable

personality is one of tectonic stress, explosive volcanism, glaciations, torrential rainfall, the after-noon sun, and the disintegration and regeneration of huge conifer forests.

The river flows through a rugged canyon. The deep clear pools and clean, gray gravel bars are often shaded by the tall, wet green trees.

As the river leaves the steep slope of the mountain it crosses recent volcanic mudflows and the gradient decreases. The mellowing currents allow smaller gravel to collect. These deposits form an ever-shifting layer, lying loosely over a mantle of hard basalt. Much of the water in the river travels through this aquifer providing maximum oxygenation for the spawn of anadromous fish. The Sandy River basin contains vast areas of spawning gravel for salmon and steelhead.

Wild steelhead return to the Sandy River every month of the year. Hatchery Steelhead are available approximately eleven months each year. Chinook salmon are available in reasonable condition and catchable numbers six months each year.  Coho runs can be prodigious in September and October.  The Sandy River has gained a reputation among fly fishing enthusiasts as a very demanding arena to test the best of skills.  However, it has very, very high quality steelhead, especially during the winter months.

This river's geographic location, topography and geologic history make it the perfect factory for large, strong fish that return ocean bright.

A careful blending of both hatchery and endemic stocks, bring bright steelhead year round. Probably at least five genetically different races of steelhead ascend the Sandy River each year.

This steelhead fishery is combined with the added bonus of Chinook and Coho salmon and a budding resident trout fishery.  In the 1970's and 1980's runs of steelhead and Cohos were heralded as the highest percentage of hatchery returns in the world. In 1980 nearly 20,000 steelhead returned to the watershed.  During the 1990's runs plummeted. Wild fish nearly disappeared.  The Federal Endangered Species Act intervened.  Basin management shifted drastically from total hatchery involvement to a concerted effort to resurrect wild populations.  Recently we have gotten some good breaks from nature as well. The Pacific Ocean is in the cold water phase.  Massive up-wellings are causing a bloom of the small animals that our fish feed on, which favors their survival while they are at sea.

Debates on how our fisheries are to be managed can be fierce.  Long term battle lines have been drawn between anglers who want to kill all the fish NOW, and angler who want to save some for FUTURE generations.  However most of the people in the area do believe that the river should be left to its natural flow.  The canyon's residents have fiercely guarded the Sandy River's ecology. Nowhere else in the world does such a wild and scenic steelhead river flow through such a densely populated area.
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Fish long & prosper,
Mark & Patty
 

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